For my STEP project I attended the CINECU spring semester SAS program in Sevilla, Spain. This was a five-month long program from January to June in which I took classes taught in Spanish both with the program CINECU and with the local university, La Universidad de Sevilla. During this time, I stayed with a local family and participated in program excursions as well as some of my own. Included with the CINECU program were weekend trips to Toledo and Madrid as well as Cordoba and Granada, (paid) visits to an olive oil refinery and a winery, and cultural tours around the sights of Sevilla (the cathedral, Las Setas, the palace, roman ruins). There was also a program of intercambio in which I submitted my interests and was paired with a Spanish student conversation partner who became a close friend and introduced me to many local places and people.
During this project I transformed in a number of ways. Firstly, socially, I entered the program with no friends or acquaintances. I am not the type of person who likes to be socially isolated but also if I am going to be spending five months with other students I wanted to choose friends who actually had similar interests to me. For the first month I didn’t really find a group I was comfortable with, with some of the students I did not share views on most subjects and I often felt excluded (added to the fact that I had a roommate that I was randomly paired with and not entirely compatible with). However eventually I began to find friends outside of the OSU group in the UNC and Clemson groups that I was able to form strong bonds with and eventually take trips to Barcelona and Italy with. Through this experience I was able to transform through the realization that I do not have to change myself to fit in with others. There will be people who I actually enjoy spending time with and I don’t feel judged around.
Secondly, I was changed in the realization that I should focus more on myself than what others think of me. I am my own person and I should not have to worry about being tied down to a school of thought, any person, any city, any country. I have always been worried about what others will think of what I am doing with my life, choosing an impressive field of study, stressing about what employment there is available in my field. There is always going to be some path worth taking and sometimes it isn’t what I thought. If the thought of doing something brings me dread, maybe I should reconsider if that thing is worth doing.
Finally, I was academically transformed by my class at the Universidad de Sevilla. This class on Urban Anthropology was eye opening for me because it was always a challenge. I felt more motivated to tune into the lectures and group discussions because it was improving my Spanish to just be in class and talk about an unrelated subject. I was intrigued by the subject material and tried harder than I have in most classes in Ohio just to make sure I was able to pass a class that relied entirely on the final exam and final essay. I decided that it is important to apply this attitude to my studies for the remainder of my time at OSU.
The changes that I went through during this transformational experience were important to my life in a few different ways. I now feel much more confident in unfamiliar or uncomfortable situations. Whether it be going to a country in which I am not entirely fluent in the language, putting myself in situations where I feel alone or know no one, or taking classes on subject matter that I never thought I would learn. I feel much more confident in myself as a person and my personality. I realize that I am who I want to be and not who others want me to be. In the future this will help me academically because I will choose the career goals that best suit my personality and not what my peers see as important or better. Personally, this change reinforces my independence and allows me to continue to unapologetically be myself. In terms of my future plans this experience has changed my mind as I now realize that my true love is language and I would like to continue learning languages and possibly teach English abroad.